I know that it is hard to justify Youth Games officials' irresponsible behavior this past week, but since we often focus on the negative, I would like to analyze and point out the positive aspects of the Youth Games debacle and the subsequent outpouring of support.
Ralph Wilson, the VI Youth Games president, who was AWOL throughout the games, and now lives in Texas, is partly to blame for the mishap. However, what made him leave is probably the main reason why the Virgin Islands continues to struggle with its financial problems.
Ralph, I felt, was a visionary man who thought of the Youth Games as the forerunner to other bigger and greater sporting events that could take place in St. Croix. He had a lot of faith in our youth and always felt that sports could become the best antidote to our youth's drug problems and a catalyst for further economic activity from tourism.
I am sure Ralph was so frustrated, as any person could be when he discovered the government's "no- we- can't- afford- it" attitude, and the business community's, justifiable, lack of will to support such an activity, that he decided to go to Texas leaving the Youth Games in limbo when he could not find any support for his efforts.
Although this does not justify his leaving the Virgin Islands to bear the responsibility of making it work, I am sure some of you know how frustrating it is to deal with government in our islands. We often speak of not paying our property taxes until we get out tax refunds, or teachers and cops stage sickouts and protest when government fails in delivering on their promises. Well, it seems Ralph thought, "to hell with them, let them deal with the problem because I am gone." Sad, but a probable scenario indeed.
In the end, the Virgin Islands' community and government did a fair job in salvaging the Youth Games, but only when it felt that not getting involved would hurt them more than getting involved.
Once again, we have demonstrated how we can come together and make things work when facing difficult situations. Hurricanes Hugo and Marilyn are two good examples of how we've made things work in the past.
Youth Games participants for the most part will leave the territory with the feeling that, although the games got off to a shaky start, in the end the people of our islands stepped up to the plate and made it work.
In the future, wouldn't it be better for our government and our community to adopt projects or events such as the Youth Games from the very beginning, instead of rejecting such ideas under the pretext that we cannot pull it off or that we don't have enough money?
I feel that the only obstacle that we face as we attempt to recover from the financial debacle of our government's own irresponsible financial behavior, is our lack of faith on what we can accomplish together as a people. It doesn't take millions to make something like the Youth Games or any other small sporting events work. And in return the amounts of goodwill and press coverage that can be generated, as well as the powerful word of mouth publicity would make it worth the effort.
I, for one, believe that we have the human resources and know-how to hold the Central American Games in the VI in the near future. Further down the road we could even stage the Pan American Games. Of course you will always have the nay sayers who will say that we cannot pull something like that off, but my faith in what we can do as people has no limits.
If we could only learn to utilize our potential to achieve the "impossible dreams" we could then resolve our sad current state of affairs.
Silver Spring, Md.
DON'T STOP THE GAMES, SUPPORT THEM
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